Now that I’ve been practising Vipassana meditation for a few years, I’ve come to learn a few things. Like what people say when you mention a 10 day silent meditation course..
- Not talk for 10 days, I could never do that!
- Only 2 meals a day, I’d be starving
- No way could I get up at 4.30 every day
- Sounds like some kind of weirdoes cult
- What, no mobile, no email?? F*%k that!
But before we get into what Vipassana is and isn’t, let’s back up a bit and give a very brief overview of what it entails.
What Is Vipassana?
Vipassana meditation is the original, pure style of meditation as practised by Buddha in 6th Century BC in India that’s been passed down over the centuries from teacher to student.
To start practising Vipassana everyone must sit a 10 day residential course. Why 10 days? Well to understand the technique properly takes time and to get the desired benefits from Vipassana, you must practice correctly. This 10 day period teaches you how to do that.
And for the 10 days…
- no talking, mobiles, reading, watching TV or listening to music
- food and lodgings are provided free of charge
- participants must agree to stick to the daily schedule (up at 4.30, meditate in various sessions all day, eat breakfast at 6.30, lunch at 11, fruit at 16.30, bed 21.30) and not leave the meditation centre
So you can see why people might freak out at the thought of it
But, there is a method in the madness: after the 10 days, Vipassana meditators often start to look at things a bit differently, viewing themselves and the world from a fresh perspective.
For me it’s been an amazing technique that’s helped me to keep balanced, be mindful of others and be happier in my day to day life. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and sitting cross legged in a quiet room for an hour a day is now part of my daily routine.
And with all that time to contemplate stuff, I’ve come up with a list of 5 things that everyone should know about Vipassana – particularly if you’re contemplating trying a 10 day course.
1. Vipassana promotes mastery of the mind and clarity of thought
Vipassana is all about observing yourself, looking inside your own body and mind for solutions. As part of this process you gain an understanding of why sometimes you don’t have any control over things like losing your temper, getting nervous or making dumb knee jerk reactions. Through the self observation of meditation you gradually start to gain mastery of these emotions, resulting in greater clarity of thought and more balanced behaviour in many every day situations.
2. It’s completely free – both financially and from ulterior motives
When I first considered sitting a Vipassana course, I, like many people, wondered if it was a cult or scam. One of the main things that convinced me otherwise was the fact that it is completely free to everyone, know matter how many courses you sit, where in the world you sit them or how long they are. Naturally, donations are accepted, but the choice is always 100% yours, with no pressure ever being exerted.
3. Not talking is not that hard
Everyone thinks that not talking for 10 days will be impossible! But after the course, most people realise that it didn’t really bother them. Strange as it sounds, once you get started on the technique, there’s no time for talking…
4. Vipassana is not a religion
There’s no deity worship in Vipassana, no concept of deferring to a God or an almighty being.
You focus only on the internal – you hold all the answers to your questions, you are your own salvation, you don’t look to any external power. So it’s it completely non secular and open to people of any religion or faith, plus of course those of us who don’t hold any religious beliefs.
5. Vipassana wants you to ‘be happy’
A key mantra of Vipassana is ‘be happy’. Of course ‘happiness’ is very subjective concept, but the ultimate aim of Vipassana is to help you live a happy life that doesn’t harm you or others. And if you’re happy, you spread happiness to others around you, creating a virtuous circle of…well, happiness!
Vipassana courses are held completely free of charge all over the world in dozens of official Vipassana centres. If anyone wants to charge you for Vipassana, don’t pay, it’s a con and not Vipassana.
For more information on Vipassana in your country, check the official site.
Or please do ask me any questions via the comments section below or email me at
and I’ll be happy to help– I’ve sat three 10 day course, a few shorter ones and have been practising every day (almost!) for the last three years or so.